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Endurance runner Sumedha Mahajan’s first book, Miles To Run Before I Sleep, is an account of how she took to running and ended up running 1500 kms from New Delhi to Mumbai in 2012, in a span of thirty days.
Sumedha Mahajan’s Miles To Run Before I Sleep, written in the first person and in a rather reminiscing style, makes for a quick read. With a brief introductory dip into her early years, Sumedha immerses her readers into the meat of the story – the long and arduous journey by foot between Delhi and Mumbai.
Invited by India’s model-turned-running evangelist Milind Soman, Sumedha is a part of a five member team that is doing the 30 days/1500 kilometres run. Called ‘Greenathon’, the run was an effort to raise environmental awareness and reduce pollution. Milind Soman’s presence ensured the presence of a news crew and publicity for their cause.
What follows is a detailed description of each day, with its fair share of travails, aches, pains and injuries as Sumedha, an asthmatic, struggles with her ‘defective’ lungs as well as myriad other issues. Add to it a depleted interest in the proceedings from the media and a petty, warring crew, and the run is far from smooth.
The motley team of runners keep their heads down and are determined to finish the job. And they do so in thirty days, as promised.
The book reads neither like a journal, nor like a serious book. It is written in a mix of styles and I did wish the author had chosen one tack and gone with it. It reads more like a blog, with scant details thrown in. I would have loved to have the Greenathon featured in more detail. How about a map of their route? Most of the smaller towns and villages are unfamiliar to someone not from the region. A pictorial depiction of the route, images from the different days as the run progresses and a more in-depth description of the incidents she describes would have all made for a more riveting read.
As mentioned earlier, the book is a quick read, spanning 174 pages in total. But I wish it made for a more inspiring read, as well. Right from the beginning, I found it hard to see the method behind Sumedha’s approach to running. She calls herself a ‘self-taught’/’self-styled’ runner, one that figures out what is best for her based on her gut feeling; but she seems alarmingly cavalier about serious issues such as injury and training. Never having run more than 25 kilometres, she signs up for a full marathon because that was the only one she could get a running bib for. After completing just two marathons, she decides to do an ultra-marathon – not 50 kms or even 75 kms but 100 kms! Not backed up by an increase in her running or ramping up her strength training (in fact, there’s scant mention of that) but with the “I know you can do it” brand of support of her husband and family!
I wish the book addressed itself to those that might be interested in taking up running after reading Sumedha’s story, as many are wont to, and included vital info such as how to get started, training methodology and injuries, for a start.
The story ultimately disappointed me purely because it lacked sufficient depth. I would have loved some more meat that I could get my teeth into. For a sickly child that battled asthma to go on to play competitive tennis and then running as an adult is a fantastic achievement! But she barely touches upon her hard work, choosing to give a running commentary of things. I would have loved Sumedha to have delved into her personal demons in more detail.
Where’s the soaring triumph? Where’s the arc of her personal journey? Why aren’t we privy to the sweat and guts she spilled to get to the point where she conquers it? Make no mistake, these are mentioned but fleetingly; mere sentences that touch upon these, instead of digging deep and taking us with it.
Instead of painting us a picture of words, Sumedha sketches out the outlines of it, leaving me wanting more.
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Mother, writer, foodie, margarita lover, Lavanya is the exception to the rule that women are
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